Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 4, 2022

Stolen valor

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

This is a must read in light of the recent efforts to block “undesirable” neighbors via historic designation. But, in Alameda, historic preservation via the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society has long been a mainstay in Alameda. Previously the reputation of AAPS was unimpeachable but recently that reputation has been taking some hits due to the inconsistencies in their public facing communications.

Apparently AAPS allowed itself to be used for the SHPO nomination of the McKay avenue parcels. I’ve seen correspondence from AAPS leadership which says that AAPS itself did not submit the nomination to SHPO even though their name is plastered as the “organization” under “Form Prepared By.”

AAPS leadership did, however, say that they sent a letter of support of the nomination even though the authorization was never given in the first place by AAPS to file a nomination. One would think that, to keep their reputation clean, the AAPS Board of Directors would, instead, send a letter distancing themselves from an application that they had no hand in vetting or ensuring that the information contained within was correct. I would imagine that given AAPS’s close working relationship with the City and other agencies like the EBRPD they would want to retain a level of professionalism that they would expect from the City and other agencies when it comes to notice and collaboration. If I were a general member of AAPS and believed in its mission, I would feel very uncomfortable with the way that my board simply rolled over in the face of someone, essentially, stealing the valor of AAPS.

Essentially what AAPS’s Board here has done is open the door for anyone to simply use the name of AAPS without repercussion as long as the ends justify the means. I mean, I could, tomorrow, turn in an application to SHPO asking to landmark the old Wienerschnitzel building on Park Street as a meaningful historic and cultural building to be preserved. The A shaped building is a glorious homage to Swiss chalets and so few A shaped Wienerschnitzel buildings still remain. Maybe I can make up that I found blueprints which shows that Ozone Rinpa was the listed architect which is an anagram for Renzo Piano. I could then fill out the form and list my organization as the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society because I know they won’t do anything to publicly repudiate my application.

But anyway, from the Atlantic:

The inconvenient truth, however, is that while many preservationists today are engaged in good-faith efforts to move away from the elitism of the movement’s past, the effects of landmark laws have not changed as much as the rhetoric now surrounding them might imply. The aesthetes and white-collar property owners who made historic preservation an enduring political force in the 20th century are still the main coalition supporting it in the 21st. What’s more, preservation remains firmly entrenched in the wider array of practices that make urban real estate an engine of wealth generation for some and immiseration for others.

As historic preservation has evolved as a political issue, one cannot be separated from the other. Today, when most preservationists identify as liberals, preservation is thus a superb case study of a much larger problem in urban politics: that of the Democratic Party’s growing base of white-collar professionals attempting to reconcile their material interests with their egalitarian ideals. This tension is reflected in superficial attempts to reframe historic preservation as a progressive endeavor. But no equity framework will make landmarking equitable in the future if it does not first recognize that enriching the owners of landmarked buildings remains a fundamental part of what preservation does in the present.


  1. OMG, Lauren! This is 7th post in a row about Carmen Reid!

    …Keep up the good work, people should know there are consequences for their actions, such as getting exposed for pretending to care about the military (when you hypocritically wanted to raze those same buildings couple years earlier), masquerading as an architectural preservation society without their permission, and needlessly attacking nonprofits and actual city leaders for the good work they’re doing.

    Don’t like getting called out and gaining notoriety? Then stop your constant divisive bullshit, Carmen Reid.

    Comment by Really — May 4, 2022 @ 8:13 am

    • Watch out, buster! Carmen would like to speak with your manager about these divisive comments you’re making.

      Comment by Rod — May 4, 2022 @ 12:02 pm

      • Has she ever heard back from Iron Maiden’s manager?

        Comment by Reality — May 4, 2022 @ 6:27 pm

        • I don’t know, but that Judas Priest guy sure never shuts up and I don’t think she ever talked to their manager!

          Comment by Rod — May 4, 2022 @ 9:37 pm

  2. Hey there, I am one of those AAPS general members who finds this whole episode really troubling. Although I am not a part of the AAPS leadership team, if you mean the board of directors, I am the chair of the plaque committee (a very small committee of two). I like plaques because they fit in well with the education mission of AAPS, to highlight old buildings that are architecturally distinctive or have important historic events or people connected with them. I wrote a letter last year to the HAB in support of the Wellness Center, but asking that interpretive plaques or signs (not necessarily AAPS ones) be included in the Wellness Center site planning, so that ALL of the history of this site, not just the training center history, but the bombing, and later service as an FSIS site, could be told.

    On the AAPS plaque committee, in conjunction with the building owners, we verify the building history before a plaque is cast with AAPS’ logo on it. With the information from Page & Turnbull (preservation experts) casting doubt on the facts of this Marine Center application, will people start doubting the architects listed on AAPS’ historic plaques around town now? These days of “alternative facts” AKA facts made up to support your position, it is hard to see how it won’t affect credibility.

    The article you linked well describes the tension and contradictions between progressive ideals and historic preservation, and I think many people like me are struggling with this very thing now. That is a whole discussion in itself, and thank you for linking it.

    Comment by KBB — May 4, 2022 @ 1:16 pm

  3. I forgot to thank you again for your terrific research trying to find the materials for these posts. How fortunate we are to have the wonderful City Clerk’s office to help us here in Alameda, and packets for all the meetings provided online, sometimes several times as more and more letters come in to the Clerk’s office.

    Comment by KBB — May 4, 2022 @ 4:02 pm

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